Williams doubles up on medals for Paris at state

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 5/25/23

The captain of Paris track and field capped his high school career in a good way this past weekend.

Class 1 and 2 State Track and Field Photo Gallery

Drew Williams finished in the top eight …

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Williams doubles up on medals for Paris at state


The captain of Paris track and field capped his high school career in a good way this past weekend.

Class 1 and 2 State Track and Field Photo Gallery

Drew Williams finished in the top eight at the Class 1 state meet at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City twice, finishing seventh in the boys 800-meter run on Friday and anchoring a sixth-place 4x800-meter relay team on Saturday along with fellow seniors Clayton Duncan and Brayden DeOrnellas and freshman Landen Chapman. The 4x800 state medal is the school’s first in either boys and girls 4x800 relay events.

Head coach Gary Crusha recalls that Williams was more of a sprinter in his freshman year, showing good speed as he’s done on the football field as a running back. After his initial season was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020, Williams has made it to state three times and has medaled three times while posting a better 800 time than the previous year’s. He had a time of 2:03.80 this year.

“He sets goals and works hard toward his goals,” Crusha said. “That’s the kind of kid you want in track and field. (We said) maybe he could be a middle-distance runner because of speed-wise and his work ethic that you need to have for a good middle-distance runner. He’s like the captain of our track team as he’s well-respected and people listen to him and he takes it very seriously.”

Williams said his 800 run has been harder with each trip as he thinks the competition level has gone up. In the final stretch of the 800, Williams had a pained and determined look in his face as he was reaching for the final bits of energy for a good finish. 

“800 is definitely one of the hardest races there is,” Williams said. “It takes a lot of guts and a lot of willpower really is a main part of the race. As far as training for it goes, to make sure speedwork (is good) running 200s and 400s along with endurance as well.”

Williams secured the 4x800 medal on Saturday as after two legs of the race, Paris was sitting in eighth in the final medal position. Before Williams ever was handed the baton, Chapman helped the Coyotes make up ground until they eventually finished sixth. 

Chapman displayed a late burst of speed in his individual race later in the day while running the 3200-meter run. Early in the race, he was in sixth place before falling to the 10th position. Still, the state cross country qualifier Chapman wasn’t done as passed another runner to finish one spot shy of medaling but posted a new personal-best time of 10:50.32.

“I’d say our third runner (Chapman) for sure (was the difference),” Williams said. “Way faster and a lot harder worker.”

DeOrnellas said Paris knew what to expect this year as the three seniors on the relay returned from last year’s state competition. The state 4x800 has a unique feature where all 16 teams race each other in one heat as runners line up to await the arrival of their teammate, creating more clutter on the track.

Duncan said everybody on the team hunted for new personal-best times with the return to state as the main goal. It paid off as the Coyotes improved on their time of 9:03.36 last year than put them in 13th place with a time of 8:37.75.

“We’ve had several boys 4x800 teams and girls 4x800 teams here, but we couldn't get past that 10th place marker,” Crusha said. “It looks like we finally got over that stepping stone and hopefully it will lead to bigger things to come. Those four boys, especially those three seniors, I’m happy to see them come out with a medal. 

“Landen was a big part of getting those seniors the opportunity because without Landen, he’s the last missing piece of the puzzle. In every meet we went to, usually the third-place runner is the weakest runner of all relay teams but for us there isn’t much weakness, I thought we always gained a lot of ground with that third-place runner. We always felt like we were giving Drew a chance and he could do well.”

Crusha said Chapman had a great 1600 race and should be in store for greater things in the future as he was one of three freshmen in the field and has some room for physical growth. He said Chapman already has the big drive and heart to perform well.

As for the other Paris state qualifiers, Colton Kendrick finished 12th in the boys pole vault in the junior’s his third trip to the state meet in the event. Crusha said Kendrick has gone through much this year just because of the broken leg he sustained near the end of football season that delayed his return to the basketball court prior to him participating in baseball and track during spring.

“Hopefully next year with the addition of a brand new track facility at Paris and all of the field events to practice on every day, I think he’ll get better and the team will get better,” Crusha said. “His fundamentals need some tweaking. With all those factors, I think he is happy to be back here, but he’s a competitive person and try to medal.”

Paris brought some Lady Coyotes to the state meet for the first time since 2019 as state cross country medalist Mairyn Kinnaman ran in the 3200 and was part of the 4x800 team along with Sophia Crusha, Kaylee Johnson and Emma Ashenfelter.

Kinnaman finished 12th in the 3200 while her relay team was 10th earlier in the day on Friday with a time just north of 11 minutes at 11:03.21 while eighth-place posted a 10:49.02. 

“She’s upset because she’s very competitive,” Crusha said. “I will say that in that 4x800 team — three freshmen and one sophomore. So they all come back.

“We knew coming in we were ranked 10th (in the girls 4x800) so we knew we would have to run really well to get in the top eight,” Crusha said. “We did the best we could on the day, and I told them, ‘You did your best, you walk off the track and you’re 10th in state. There’s a lot of teams that aren’t 10th in state.’”

Look for the story in the May 27, 2023, edition of the Mexico Ledger.